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Next Factor Q&A: 'Butter' Star Yara Shahidi

Yara Shahidi Getty Images

Jennifer Garner might have met her match. Her name is Yara Shahidi ... and she's 12 years old.

In the new movie "Butter," Shahidi plays the adoptive daughter of Alicia Silverstone and Rob Corddry. She also happens to be an aspiring butter carving champion. Hey, you gotta have a dream. Garner, in all her glory, is the woman to beat. May the best butter-carving lady win.

Though Shahidi has already has an impressive resume, which includes "Imagine That" with Eddie Murphy, a guest spot on "Wizards of Waverly Place" and "Salt" opposite Angelina Jolie, "Butter" really lets her show her comedy chops in a fresh way. We sat down with the young star to talk about the fascinating world of butter carving, what it's like working with her brother and why she doesn't think she has it all figured out just yet.

How did you get involved in this movie?
I auditioned. I really loved the script, but then the second time I was going in to audition, like 30 minutes before, we figured out that I had three new pages of dialogue that I hadn't memorized because we thought it was just the same thing, so I memorized it in the car ride!

Were you nervous?
I was a little nervous, but I kind of enjoy that. I enjoy being nervous and having that adrenaline rush and getting kind of hyper!

The Weinstein Co.

Had you seen butter carving before?
Yes! They had my mom come in at the end of my audition actually and we talked about how I had seen butter carving at the Minnesota state fair because I go there every year with my grandpa.

When you got the part were you surprised?
When I got the part, it was March and so it was Persian new year and I thought we were just going to celebrate that but then my parents told me and I picked up my brother and squeezed him and was like, "Really?!" and then I just kind of dropped him...

You dropped your brother?!
(Laughs.) Yeah. I was like, "I can't believe it!" And then I dropped him and he was mad.

How did you feel when you found out all of the other amazing actors who were going to be in the movie with you?
Excited! I don't watch much TV though so I didn't know everyone by name right away. I'm only allowed to watch TV on the weekends, so I went to Netflix and I had to scroll down forever to find the end of everyone's credits. That's when I was like, "Oh my goodness!" They had so many credits, all of them! I couldn't believe it.

You play the adopted daughter of Alicia Silverstone and Rob Corddry. In real life, how are you like your character Destiny and how are you different?
Destiny and I both have doubts at times, but we end up getting over it and succeeding. As far as how we're different, she's kind of shy, and I'm not shy.

Ever?
I've been shy twice. Once when I saw Matthew Bomer and once when I saw Adam Levine. I couldn't say anything, literally.

Yara Shahidi and Alicia Silverstone Getty Images

Did you learn anything from Alicia Silverstone on set?
Well, I was a pescetarian, but then I was on set with Alicia and I really look up to her and she's vegan, so I would mimic whatever she had on her plate at lunch. I'd be like, "Okay, she has one part lentils, one part veggies." I'd be looking over her shoulder as she was making her plate and just doing whatever she did.

Are you a vegan now?
I'm starting my pescetarianism again because I needed iron.

What do you have coming up next?
"Alex Cross" with my brother, and also "The First Family," which is the TV show we're on together.

How is it working with your brother?
It's so fun. He's hilarious.

Who's the harder worker?
That's too hard to answer! But he does work really hard for being only nine I guess.

Do the kids at school treat you differently now?
No, they're just like, "Yara, bring me something back from Louisiana." (Laughs.) They just want souvenirs. I would send them puzzles and stuff. I sent them pictures. They liked it. But now I'm home-schooled. I go on and off home-school and regular school, but the kids don't treat me any differently because they've all known me forever.

How did you first get discovered?
I started doing commercials with my mom in Minnesota, I think for Target. Then I read ["Imagine That"] and I loved it and I auditioned. It was really funny because when I got to go into the scene with Eddie Murphy, he just really reminded me of my uncle and that made it so much better for me! I had so much fun!

What would you be doing if you weren't acting?
I really love acting, but I also really want to be a historian, so it's really confusing. I'm admiring all these philosophers, but at the same time there's all these actors and actresses who have like gone to Harvard and been able to do all these great things, so I'm trying to figure that out right now.

Did you get to buy anything with your first Hollywood paycheck?
I wasn't even aware of the money! I just think, "Oh my gosh, I get to be on set! This is so cool!" But I'm pretty it goes into savings because I want to go to Oxford.

New York or L.A.?
Hmm. Well, I'm in New York now!

Rock or rap
I really love hip hop. My cousin Nas came out with an album "Life Is Good" and I love that album, but I also love Maroon 5. I've played "One More Night" like 20 times in the last day.

Lady Gaga or Madonna?
Rihanna!

Do you have any hidden talents?
Rock climbing!

So you're not scared of heights?
(Laughs.) No, I am!

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